- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Shambhala; First Edition edition (April 10, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590304292
- ISBN-13: 978-1590304297
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Contemplating Reality: A Practitioner's Guide to the View in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism Paperback – April 10, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Buddhism emphasizes direct experience and devalues conceptual thinking, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of philosophical reasoning and inquiry. This book by Karr, a teacher and investment banker, is formidably philosophical. "We need to use thought to get beyond thought," he writes, in laying the groundwork for a step-by-step presentation of various schools of Buddhist analytical meditation. In that practice, Buddhists contemplate ultimate reality by asking themselves questions or by reflecting on short and profound teachings. Various schools have different emphases, and Karr patiently explains and singles out these varied analytic methods. He is a friendly teacher of difficult material: exercises offer ways of helping students reach conclusions; demanding chapters of philosophical explication are relieved by quirky "interludes" of poetry and comedy; and appendixes contain helpful biographies of historical Buddhist teachers and a chart of philosophical systems. Missing, however, is a glossary that could help with Sanskrit and Tibetan terms. Both practice and study are needed for Buddhist understanding, and this volume advances study for Western practitioners. It will challenge the advanced student of Buddhism interested in the historical and intellectual richness of this wisdom tradition. (Apr. 10)
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"Karr is a friendly teacher of difficult material: exercises offer ways of helping students reach conclusions; demanding chapters of philosophical explication are relieved by quirky "interludes" of poetry and comedy; and appendixes contain helpful biographies of historical Buddhist teachers and a chart of philosophical systems. . . . Contemplating Reality will challenge the advanced student of Buddhism interested in the historical and intellectual richness of this wisdom tradition."—Publishers Weekly
"This book clearly introduces the main points of Buddhist philosophical inquiry and the key methods for how to contemplate them and gain certainty in them."—Dzogchen Ponlop, author of Wild Awakening
"This book will be tremendously helpful for anyone who encounters it."—Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, author of The Joy of Living
"I can't emphasize enough during this transitional time as Buddhism is being established in the West that at least some of us focus on the Buddhist view. I welcome this book as a sign of the dawn of appreciation of Buddhist wisdom, not just for its exotic aspects but as a philosophy that is up-to-date and even more relevant now than ever."—Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, author of What Makes You Not a Buddhist
"A jewel of a book, introducing contemplative meditation in a way that's both close to Tibetan tradition and accessible to a Western meditator. This guide provides the missing link that allows us to deeply personalize the Buddhist teachings."—Judith Simmer-Brown, author of Dakini's Warm Breath
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These teachings are particularly relevant for our time because they are so consistent with current scientific theories such as quantum mechanics and relativity. We may understand these conceptually (or not); but either way our gut-level view of reality is rooted back in the 19th century with Isaac Newton.
Karr's purpose in this book is not to make scholars of us; it is to help us reeducate our perception and thinking about reality in light of the insights of Buddhism's ancient but up-to-date philosophies. And if you know anything about them, you will appreciate the achievement of getting from Vaibhashika to Shentong Madyamaka in 200 clear and readable pages!
The author is a serious student of this material, but also a down to earth folksy practitioner who has walked the talk. Contemplating Reality may have only 10 reviews on Amazon (incl. this one) but it is a gem.
Although the book is written in a way that encourages reading short sections and stopping frequently to think about what has been presented, it is so readable that one can just slow down, smile, and continue on. The progression of the book follows the progression of the Buddhist schools, but somehow Karr has managed to eliminate the tedium that so often accompanies the classic presentations of these arguments.
In fact, I think Karr did a lot of the work for us by clearing up the confusions for himself before presenting the points to us. His understanding make the exercises accessible and enjoyable. And his choice of quotes and poetry from historic Buddhist masters brings a profundity to the material that often transcends logic altogether.
So if you are open to investigating the nature of things as they are, "Contemplating Reality" is a way to understand emptiness and its inherent friendliness that will add freedom and humor to your path in life.
With a wry, sometimes wink-of-the-eye sense of humor, and a spontaneous honesty hard to achieve in print (for all his study, the author cops to once not having had a daily meditation practice), Contemplating Reality untangles the complexity of the schools and subschools of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist thought in the clearest terms I have ever seen--supported by a series of analytical and contemplative meditation exercises derived from 2,500 years of Buddhist practice. Andy Karr's book is personal, practical, plain and profound.